Wichita State Shockers

Wichita State athletics set to gear up with Under Armour

Wichita State baseball wears Under Armour uniforms now, but programs such as men’s basketball (Nike) and volleyball (Adidas) will continue with their manufacturers until those contracts end.
Wichita State baseball wears Under Armour uniforms now, but programs such as men’s basketball (Nike) and volleyball (Adidas) will continue with their manufacturers until those contracts end. The Wichita Eagle

Wichita State will announce an all-encompassing apparel contract for its athletic department within the next week.

WSU, according to several sources, will sign with Under Armour. Athletic director Darron Boatright declined to confirm the brand, although he did confirm the coming announcement.

In addition to the financial benefits, Boatright said a consistent appearance in all sports is an important factor in the decision. WSU sports currently use different providers for sports — men’s basketball is Nike, volleyball is Adidas and baseball is Under Armour.

“Consistent branding, sending the same message,” Boatright said. “Something as simple as performing in the same and correct colors. You can’t imagine how many different colors of yellow are out there.”

Boatright said the contract has been negotiated over the past year. He declined to reveal the terms of the contract.

Wichita State’s move to the American Athletic Conference may change the specifics (money, types of apparel) of the contract, but won’t change the provider.

“We agreed with a provider,” he said. “The figures could, and probably will, change.”

WSU’s teams will honor existing contracts. Men’s basketball will wear Nike through next season. Volleyball will stay with Adidas through at least next season.

Under Armour’s stable of college teams includes Maryland, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Utah, Auburn and others. On July 1, UCLA and California will move to Under Armour. The brand is used by American Athletic Conference schools South Florida, Cincinnati and Temple.

It is also the brand endorsed by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.

While Nike remains the biggest player in outfitting college athletes, Under Armour is moving aggressively to snap up prominent schools. Under Armour is based in Baltimore and was founded by Maryland alum Kevin Plank.

According to the Los Angeles Times, UCLA’s 15-year, $280-million deal with Under Armour is the largest in college athletics when signed in May 2016.

“There is a major arms race going on,” George Belch, a marketing professor at San Diego State, told the Los Angeles Times. “Nike has dominated the market for many years and you also have Adidas … now Under Armour clearly has become a major player.”

According to the Baltimore Sun, Under Armour’s strategy is to hit key schools to expand its geographic reach. UCLA and Cal put the brand on the West Coast, which is dominated by Nike from its Oregon headquarters.

“We’re never going to be the brand with the most athletes or the most schools, most entertainers — that’s not who we are,” Ryan Kuehl, senior vice president for global sports marketing told the Sun. “We want the right ones, the ones with the high character and the elite talent, that have a certain flair that people want to follow and are interested in.”

Heiar moves to LSU — LSU confirmed the hiring of Greg Heiar from Wichita State as assistant basketball coach on Wednesday.

“It is exciting that Greg Heiar will be joining our staff at LSU,” coach Will Wade said in a statement. “His experience and passion for the game both as a top assistant and as a head coach has been proven over and over by being a consistent winner everywhere he has been. His ability to recruit great players at every coaching stop makes him an outstanding fit.”

Heiar, 41, spent the past six seasons at WSU.

“I would like to thank Coach Gregg Marshall for the time that I spent at Wichita State and helping put me in the position to have this type of opportunity,” he said in a statement. “This is a great opportunity for me and my family to work with a wonderful, young, energetic and passionate person in Coach Wade.”

Heiar was the senior assistant on Marshall’s staff. He is regarded as an excellent recruiter and takes a lead role in working on skills with players. Former Shockers such as Malcolm Armstead sometimes stopped by Wichita in the summer to work with Heiar. Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet started their preparation for NBA workouts with Heiar.

“Greg, he’s so enthusiastic and he gets out there and sweats with them,” Marshall said in 2015. “The guys really like working with him.”

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop